Book Talk: The Potion Diaries


The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 368
Source: Purchased
Purchase from: Book Depository / Wordery


When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and
frozen tundras, facing death at every turn. Enter Samantha Kemi an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime? And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. No big deal, then.

The basic premise of the book sounded interesting enough for me to give it a try so I decided to buy this whilst out and about. It's clearly romance leaning, which I am not a massive fan of, but I figured it was worth a shot as it's pretty widely liked on the bookstagrams I follow. Whilst I didn't care much for the obvious love angle I did think the idea of the Princess poisoning herself pretty funny. If potions were real SOMEONE would do something that daft eventually you know?

“And love potions aren't even about love, are they? They're about the illusion of it: the fantasy."

Don't get me wrong this is meant as a light hearted fluffy and easy read, which it definitely is. It took just shy of two hours to complete and I did read it without having to stop. It's a read that you don't much need to think about.

As you can see, I don't rate this one highly. Whilst I think this would appeal to younger YA readers who want fluff, the writing was just far too lazy at far too many points for me to really like it. There are several things I liked. The idea of a world where Nature is full of the ingredients and magic needed, but too wild and now too sparse, is a decent representation of the state of the world as is. With ingredients and creatures of interest it's at least been thought out to create different regions with differences in what their Wilds contain.

“Amber laticifer tree. The thick resin from its bark can be used in the creation of ..."

Unfortunately no amount of pretty world building could save this book from the characters. A marginally interesting baddie, the "evil aunt" essentially, was decent enough. Brutal by any rate, she didn't mind killing dozens of people. Yet when she's caught on camera with a gun she just runs off? That was a TERRIBLE way to get rid of her. It was just so absurd. She has magical abilities and likes weapons. She is not just going to run off and hide!! It was just so ridiculous and clearly a quick way to get rid of her to get to the next part. I was disappointed at how lazily this part was written. 

A decent character was Kate. The Finder who, with no abilities, was one of the best at finding what was needed. Shown as a wise crack, with a decent ruthless streak, she was the only character who I liked. Happy to butt heads with the richest guy or abandon the main character's friends. She felt real at least. The only character other than her that was truly interesting was the grouchy Grandad. 

"Don't think you can replace instincts, honed through experience, with synthetic ones, like you've done with potions and their ingredients.” 

The addition of the little sister on the hunt who then magically (literally magically) saved their butts is another example of lazily adding in a thread. It didn't fit with everything else that had happened and was there to make events happen faster, without truly integrating anything of relevance into the plot and ending as abruptly as it came. There are just too many abruptly added and removed pieces to force events and it isn't something I enjoy. More time weaving these points in would have made a huge difference to the quality of the read.

The ending was probably the part that irked me most. I love the idea of alchemy alongside the modern, but the way the main character and her love interest "fell apart" was unneeded. I could live with that however, until the writer reunited them in the simplest possible way. "Oh you've betrayed me in every way" let's kiss and make up. Honestly I cannot stand this ending. There was no need to force the happy ending. There's another book, it could have included a real reconciliation, or the book could have been longer to include proper conclusions for theirs and the villains storylines. The story about what love truly is, is decent enough, and something that is worth saying to young readers. So in that respect I appreciate the message the author is trying to send. I simply think it's done poorly.

“And love potions aren't even about love, are they? They're about the illusion of it: the fantasy. They're about the lust, the passion. I've seen real love. My parents have it, for one. There's nothing one-sided about it. It's about two people agreeing to face the world together, no matter the challenges, It's about respect.

It's personal.” 

All in all, it's a lazy read. If you just want something to read and you don't much care for any substance, this is the one. It has/had a fair amount of promise, I may have liked it had another author written it. As it is the fact it's an easy read and not my personal tastes are the reason I 2 starred it rather than 1 starred it. 

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